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Author: Alice Kuder

Alice Ann Kuder is an author. Her most recent novel is "Since I Last Saw You." She is also a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices NW Real Estate in Seattle, Washington. Known as Seattle's Single Minded Realtor, she works a great deal with single buyers and sellers, primarily in West Seattle.
Get Tips Galore at Ready Freddy Workshop

Get Tips Galore at Ready Freddy Workshop

The Ready Freddy Workshop, sponsored by Just in Case, makes getting prepared for emergencies fun!

Are you ready to dip your toes in the pool of information about emergency preparedness, but not ready to dive into the deep end? Join the fun on Sunday, March 1st, 2020 for a 30-minute presentation to learn about small steps you can take to get yourself and your home ready in case “The Big One” hits. There will be plenty of time and opportunity for Q & A at the end, so plan to stay longer.

At our Ready Freddy Workshop, Alice Kuder, founder of Just in Case, will
share all kinds of useful information, including supply checklists, instruction
sheets and “Help/OK” signs for you to take home. 

The workshop is limited to 15 participants and costs just $8/group (bring friends, family, co-workers) if you pre-register, or $10 at the door. The presentation is appropriate for all ages. To register, go to: bit.ly/3-1-20.

Everyone who attends will receive a stainless steel, multi-purpose tool. All
attendees qualify to win a “Go Kit” duffle bag full of emergency
supplies!

Date/time: 3PM, Sunday, March 1st, 2020

Location: West Seattle Coworking, 6040 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98136

Stainless steel, multi-purpose tool

Duffle bag with emergency supplies

Should you buy a Home Warranty?

Should you buy a Home Warranty?

If you haven’t purchased a home in the last 10 years (or even if you have), you may never have heard of a Home Warranty.

According to marketing literature published by 2-10 Home Warranty, there is a 68% chance that major systems or appliances in a home will fail in any given year. So, if you have older appliances, a home warranty may be worth examining.

A Home Warranty is similar to an insurance policy, but is actually a service plan. The cost of the plan, paid monthly or annually, covers the cost of repair or replacement of major systems and appliances such as HVAC, water heater, refrigerator, etc. Most companies have several plans to choose from, with fees as low as $30/month. You should expect to pay between $400-$500/year for a worthwhile plan. There is also a service call fee, which is typically about $75 per incident.

For example, let’s say that you have a service agreement in place and your oven goes out. You call the warranty company, pay the $75-ish service call fee, and they send out a qualified technician to assess the situation. Assuming the oven’s failure was due to every-day wear-and-tear, the warranty company will replace the existing oven with a new one of comparable quality at no additional cost to you. Figuring the average cost of a major appliance to be anywhere from $500 and up, you can see the potential savings.

It’s worth noting that not all home warranty companies are equally dependable when it comes to paying out claims, and consumer complaints are not uncommon. Consumer Reports offers some sound advice about searching out good companies and also some alternatives to buying a warranty.

Do not confuse a home warranty with homeowner’s insurance, which your mortgage lender likely required when you took out your home loan. Homeowner’s insurance covers the loss of your house from incidents (hazards) such as fire, storms or vandalism.

To add another wrinkle, the terms “homeowner’s insurance” and “hazard insurance” are sometimes used interchangeably. In reality, hazard insurance covers the loss of the structure, whereas homeowner’s insurance covers the loss of the structure AND your personal possessions and liability. The two are typically sold together and should be reviewed every few years to make sure that your coverage limits are keeping up with inflation. Your insurance broker will be happy to help you.

Brain Hacks For Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Brain Hacks For Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Can you use brain hacks for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions  (aka, goals)? Absolutely!  You will be more successful if you put yourself in the right frame of mind.

Even if you skip the whole New Year’s resolution tradition, you may still want to read this article since the information applies equally to other goals, both personal and professional. (“A rose by any other name…”)

Choose wisely: Limit yourself to one significant goal/resolution that is truly important to you. If you’re having trouble choosing, writing out a list of pros/cons for each may help.

Commit publicly: Consult others who know you well and ask them to help you choose a resolution you have a good shot at keeping. Then enlist their support. Distance yourself from any nay-sayers, and monitor your negative self-talk.

Break it down: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It’s the same with goals. They need to be whittled down to manageable steps.

Measure your progress: Check items off a list or cross out days on the calendar or any other way you want to keep track. A sense of accomplishment will keep you motivated and lead to taking yet another positive step forward.

Visualize your success: Create a vision board, create an appropriate screen saver, post sticky-notes on your bathroom mirror, etc.  Whatever it takes to keep your goal in your line of vision and on your mind. Check out DesignWizard.com which has all kinds of ideas for helping you create an online vision board.

Celebrate your success: Be careful, however, that your celebration doesn’t entail anything that will sabotage your goal. E.g. rewarding yourself with a cookie may not be the best way to celebrate if you’re trying to shed pounds.

Be kind to yourself: In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “Today, may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

Here’s a suggestion. Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to be, “get prepared for disasters“!

Wishing you a peaceful and prosperous 2020!

What Goes Where? The Recycling Conundrum

What Goes Where? The Recycling Conundrum

What Goes Where? The Recycling Conundrum

We all know recycling is good for our environment and our communities, but it can get confusing. How do you know what can be recycled? And how should you recycle it? Check out the recycling tips and website links below to answer these questions.

Paper: Paper is recyclable. Include mail, office paper and envelopes, booklets and magazines cardboard (free of food waste), cake, cracker and cereal boxes (remove the insert that held the food and flatten the box to save space). Paper you cannot recycle includes carbon paper, wax paper and tissue paper.

Plastic: Plastics with a 1 or 2 on the bottom of the container are usually recyclable. These include beverage bottles*, shampoo bottles, cleaning bottles, and some food containers. Plastics not usually recyclable include margarine and yogurt type containers and plastic cutlery.

Aluminum: Recycle soda and juice cans, aluminum foil, pie tins, bottle caps, and other aluminum items. To recycle cans, rinse them and remove any labels. Crushing them will create more space for storage.

Glass: Glass bottles and jars may be recycled once the lids and caps are removed. No need to remove labels. Typically, treated glass (like broken plates and colored glass), window glass and incandescent light bulbs are not accepted.

Cell Phones: Recycle your used cell phones by taking them to your service provider or a store such as Staples or Best Buy, which has a drop bin for phones. You could also find a local charity that takes used cell phone donations. Either way, make sure you clear all personal data and information from the phone before recycling it.

What about composting? If you live in the CIty of Seattle, put all your food scraps, moldy leftovers, greasy pizza boxes and dirty napkins in your Food & Yard waste cart. It gets turned into rich compost, which closes the loop – feeding the soil to help grow more food and support the environment.

Still confused? (You’re not alone.) Check out the SPU website search set up to help you figure out Where It Goes.

Still have questions? The Seattle Public Utilities website has more answers.

If you prefer mobile apps, “Recycle it” is a smartphone and tablet app that offers Seattle Public Utilities solid waste customers convenient access to information about their recycling, compost, and garbage services. Customers can find their collection day, get answers to common recycling questions, and report some service issues.  iPhone users can download the app from the App Store and Android users can download the app from the Google Play Store. You can also search either store for “Seattle Garbage and Recycling.”  

Thanks for doing your part!

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Now that Fall is officially here and a chill will soon be in the air, we naturally spend more time indoors and less in the fresh air. There are a few simple things we can do to improve the indoor air quality in our homes.

1) Change your air filters.

If you have an HVAC unit, you have air filters. These hardworking filters sift out impurities in the air so that they don’t wind up in your lungs. If you’re super sensitive and live with furry friends, replace your air filters every month or two. If you don’t use the heating and cooling system often, you can stretch that to twice per year. You could also purchase air purifiers for your home to keep pollutants down.

2) Dust and vacuum often.

Dust doesn’t just look bad, it’s made of pet dander, human skin cells, dirt, grime, pollen and a lot more unpleasant stuff that causes all sorts of health issues. Suck it up!

3) Inspect for Mold.

Mold spores are everywhere, but when living in your house, they can trigger pesky allergies and make you miserable. To ensure your home doesn’t have any dangerous mold growth, do a walk-through and know where to look. Mold loves humid, damp areas. This means your bathroom, washing machine, kitchen, attic and basement are prime real estate for all types of mold. If you spot a suspicious area, use an at-home mold testing kit to determine if it’s harmful. You can treat most molds with a bleach solution, proper drainage and a dehumidifier. Very few types of mold are actually harmful, but it’s best to be on the lookout to keep your home comfortable.

4) Install a Smart Thermostat.

Smart thermostats do so much for your home. Not only do they help you save money on energy, but they can also monitor your air quality.  They can even send air quality alerts to your phone.

As always, if you want to know more, contact me at 206-708-9800 and/or Alice@AliceKuder.com. I’m here to help!

Alexa, change your name

Alexa, change your name

How to be More Secure in your Smart Home

Smart home devices are all the rage. Raise your hand if you bought or received one (or more) this past holiday season.

From virtual voice assistants to thermostats to keyless door locks, life at home is getting easier, but is it more secure, or less secure?It depends, in part, on how secure your home Wi-Fi system is.

Here are some TIPS on how to help ensure your privacy while enjoying those devices.

1) Consider changing your virtual voice assistant’s name so strangers can’t control her.

2) Install a Smart Home Cybersecurity Hub to protect your internet-connected devices from malware, stolen passwords, identity theft and spying.

3) Read (yes, actually read) the privacy policies for each of your smart devices and call the manufacturers, if necessary, to find out if they use end-to-end encryption, so no third parties can decipher the data being communicated or stored.

Sigh. If only hackers would use their powers for good instead of evil…
DIY Earthquake Retrofitting for your Home

DIY Earthquake Retrofitting for your Home

Homeowners who live in Washington State have to wonder: Will my home withstand the next major earthquake?

Prior to 1980, building codes did not require builders to secure houses to their foundation. If your home is not properly secured, it may be at increased risk of “slipping” off the foundation during a major earthquake. You can reduce damage caused during an earthquake by seismically retrofitting your home. 

Learn to become an informed consumer and how to do home retrofit yourself.

The Seattle Public Library system periodically hosts free 2-hour classes on DIY retrofitting.

Retrofit experts will show how to assess your home’s needs and how to use the City of Seattle’s pre-engineered Home Retrofit plans to permit and retrofit your home.

Here’s where to sign up and/or get more information: https://www.spl.org/event-calendar

Attention Home Buyers! July and August are great months to buy a home

Attention Home Buyers! July and August are great months to buy a home

Attention home buyers! Especially those of you who are discouraged, exhausted and just plain frustrated.

Now is the time to regroup and call on your second wind, because there is less competition this time of year, so you may even be able to avoid the bidding wars.

Why? Because many of the buyers who were active in the spring have either run out of steam or have become discouraged beyond their limits. Combine that with nice weather (who can think of anything but play when the sun shines in Seattle?) and vacations, and the pool of buyers shrinks substantially. That’s good news for those with the stamina to hang in there.

Although still undeniably hot, and generally favoring sellers, the real estate market in West Seattle (and some other parts of Seattle) has slowed down a bit in the past few weeks. More homes have come on the market recently, and many are seeing their “offer review” dates come and go with no offers. Some sellers are even having to do price reductions.

Again, this is good news for buyers, especially since interest rates are expected to start rising, and every increase — even one as small as one-eighth of a percent — effectively decreases a buyer’s buying power.

A similar situation happens every December due to bad weather and holidays.

So, if you or someone you know, wants to buy property this year, DON’T WAIT!

Contact me today for more details and a FREE CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) of your home if you are already a home owner.

Water and sewer line insurance

Water and sewer line insurance

If you are a home owner who has ever experienced problems with your water or sewer lines, you know that repairs can be very costly. Fortunately, there is low-cost insurance available that can significantly defray, if not cover the entire cost of the repair.

The following is directly off the National Water Company website. www.nationalwatercompany.com

National Water Company is a Program Administrator offering underground water and sewer line insurance and warranty programs direct to homeowners, and through a network of licensed Agencies such as AAA Washington and many more. If you’re like many homeowners, you may be unaware that your home Insurance Does Not generally provide repair coverage for your underground water and sewer pipes leading to the street. Over time, unpreventable, environmental conditions cause exterior water and sewer lines to deteriorate. The cost to locate, excavate and repair these underground service lines can have a serious impact to your finances.”

As of this posting (7/1/18), the coverage for exterior water and sewer lines is just $12.09/month.

Coverage for interior water and sewer lines and exterior electrical lines is also available at similarly low rates.

As with any insurance policy, be sure to read the fine print to know exactly what is and isn’t covered if you decide to sign up.

Are you on the fence about selling your home?Download my almost-free, step-by-step workbook.

It’s designed to give you the GUIDANCE and CONFIDENCE to decide whether you should SELL YOUR HOME or STAY PUT!

Download Now!